24 years ago, the UN designated June 17th as World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. The importance and the relevance of the topic is marked by the fact that water shortage is one of the main themes of this year’s greatest event in diplomacy, the Budapest Water Summit 2019.
Today, the problem has become extremely pressing: according to latest news reports, hundreds of villages are being evacuated in central India due to heat waves and drought that impact at least eight million farmers. In the meantime, the spread of deserts is jeopardising the livelihood of over 1 billion people, including almost all of Europe’s Mediterranean countries, and according to estimates, up to 700 million people may be forced to leave their homes due to the lack of land suitable for agriculture by 2050.
According to Prof András Szöllősi-Nagy, Chair of the International Programme and Drafting Committee of the Budapest Water Summit 2019, still not many people are aware that the issue of water has become one of the highest priorities at the international level in the 21st century.
The phenomenon most people simply know as drought is classified by specialists in six categories:
Up to 180 thousand people may be left without drinking water due to the severe drought.
Extreme drought is putting one of the world’s most important trade routes at risk.
The characteristic sand banks of the river have grown larger, some branches have dried out completely.
Zimbabwe’s capital city, Harare, shut down its main water works on 23 September citing shortages of foreign currency to import chemicals required for water treatment. The situation may not only lead to a severe water shortage for the population, but also increases the risks of diseases carried by contaminated water, such as cholera.
A comprehensive report by the European Environment Agency claims that over the next 30 years, agricultural yields could drop by up to 16 percent in Europe due to the phenomena accompanying climate change.
This year’s was the third hottest summer in Germany since the beginning of regular meteorological records in 1881, according to preliminary data from the Federal Meteorological Service.
In 2011, Laguna de Aculeo, one of the country’s favourite bathing resorts, still covered 12 square kilometres, and the lake was 6 metres deep – but since then, it has completely dried out.
The problem of the water shortages caused by global warming is much more complex than we have thought. In some parts of Africa, people not only need to face thirst but also the fact that the regions impacted by drought emit a quantity of carbon dioxide equivalent to the emissions of two hundred million cars each year.
According to a new report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that focuses on the interaction between climate change, desertification and food security, if present land use habits are maintained, the planet’s capacity to produce food will drop drastically.
The EU is contributing a further 50 million euro to alleviate drought damage in a number of Eastern and Central African countries. According to estimates, more than 4 million children and about 3 million pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are undernourished in the region.